Adding up to our posts on foreign direct investments in agriculture, the Surrey International Law Centre and the Environmental Regulatory Research Group just published a fact-finding report on the so-called ‘land-grab’ which will be used as a basis for a more in-depth piece of research.

The abstract reads as follows, and the full document can be found here.

Following the 2008 world food crisis, many international investors have engaged in a race for land acquisition and food production. This new form of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is increasingly criticised in the public sphere, which commonly refers to it as a ‘land grab’.

In the absence of consequent primary sources relating to the subject matter, however, this working document provides an overview of what the authors describe as an ‘agri-FDI’ trend, based on the cross analysis of secondary sources. It first draws a geographical map of the trend as a means to emphasise who invests and where. Second, it considers the origins of the trend are, including the 2008 food crises and the impact of increased demand for biofuel. This document, overall, constitutes the basis of a forthcoming paper which, in turn, will formulate hypotheses and questions as to whether agriculture-oriented investments differ from traditional FDI.

A. Martin and M. Ayalew, Acquiring Land Abroad for Agricultural Purposes: ‘Land Grab’ or Agri-Fdi? Report of the Surrey International Law Centre and Environmental Regulatory Research Group (March 2011). Surrey Law Working Papers – 08/2011 Available on SSRN at

In a recent article, Arjen Y. Hoekstra, professor in water resources management at the University of Twente (the Netherlands) comments on today’s practices towards water consumption.

Prof. Hoekstra recalls that although many political efforts are made to minimize domestic water consumption, agricultural practices and animal products “are by far the greater danger” for only 5 per cent of our water consumption might be related to domestic water consumption and 10 per cent industrial products.

About 85 per cent of  water consumption by contrast,would therefore be related to agricultural and animal uses. Animal consumption however, might not be related to the amount of drank water, but rather to the quantities needed to grow animals’ food.

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By Mulugeta M Ayalew, Research Fellow at the African Climate Policy Centre (ACPC), UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA)

Recently the General Assembly of the United Nations has adopted (122 in favour and 41 abstentions with no vote against) a resolution which recognised access to clean water and sanitation as a human right.

By doing so, it acknowledged “that safe, clean drinking water and sanitation were integral to the realization of all human rights”. It noted in particular the more than 800 million people without access to improved and sustainable drinking water and a lot more than that suffering from lack of access to sanitation.

It also noted that 3 million children with less than 5 years old die each year because of water and sanitation-related diseases.

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